Diokno says Andaya’s claims based on ‘wrong numbers, not grounded on facts’

Aika Rey
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno denies having a favored contractor, saying project implementation is 'not part of his job'

DENY. Embattled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno denies allegations by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. File photo by DARREN LANGIT

MANILA, Philippines – Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Friday, January 4, denied the slew of accusations hurled by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr over alleged anomalies in the 2018 budget and the proposed 2019 budget.

“His accusations are illusory. The numbers are wrong and the narrative he’s selling is not grounded on facts,” Diokno said in a statement on Friday.

This came after the House of Representatives opened the year with a probe into the projects bagged by contractor CT Leoncio Construction and Trading, which supposedly benefitted from “its ties” with the budget chief.

Diokno refuted claims that he has a favored contractor, saying that implementation of infrastructure projects is “not part of his job,” but of the Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH).

“The DBM is not involved in the implementation of projects and awarding of contracts. Contracts are awarded to contractors after open and competitive bidding in accordance with the Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act,” Diokno said.

In a report by CNN Philippines, Public Works Assistant Secretary Antonio Molano Jr defended Diokno, saying that only the “bids and awards committee of the DPWH has the power to award contracts and not the DBM.” 

“Again, the role of the DBM is to set the budget ceiling for the line agencies and to evaluate whether their programs are aligned with the government’s priorities,” Diokno said.

Wrong numbers

Andaya also questioned why the DBM has “placed too much funds” in flood control at P114.3 billion out of the proposed P555.7-billion 2019 DPWH budget.

This, he said, is almost the same amount of funds earmarked for the development of road networks at P122.9 billion.

But Diokno said the amount approved for flood control in the NEP was “well below” its initial funding request of P132.5 billion.

Andaya also alleged that Diokno have a hand into the “whopping” P10-billion infrastructure projects allocated to Sorsogon in 2018 and the P325-million allocation for flood control projects in Casiguran in the proposed 2019 budget.

“The DBM is not privy to the breakdown of DPWH projects per district. It is DPWH, as an implementing agency, that determines the specific project listing for the projects under each program and region,” he added.

In December, Andaya also accused Diokno of hiding P75-billion worth of “insertions” in the DPWH budget. Public Secretary Mark Villar has since refuted the claim, saying that the additional budget was “part of the process.”

Diokno earlier explained that the P75 billion adjustment to the DPWH budget was made to ensure that the Philippine government spends at least 5% of the gross domestic product for infrastructure.

The proposed budget for 2019 is at P3.757 trillion, with the education and public works department receiving the most funds. Lawmakers failed to pass the proposed budget on time, forcing the government to operate on a reenacted budget for the first quarter of 2019. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.